Submitted by WhereWeGoNext t3_10qz6rk in Futurology

Hey r/Futurology!

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ben Lamm and George Church, co-founders of Colossal Biosciences for my podcast Where We Go Next. One of their aims is to bring back extinct animals, including the woolly mammoth, the thylacine, and the dodo.

While our time was tight, I tried to strike a balance between orienting listeners who may be unfamiliar with this topic, and airing some skepticism I found around some of the company's more ambitious claims. We discuss:

  • What "de-extinction" is, and what use it may have in rewilding distressed ecosystems
  • The restoration efforts of Sergey and Nikita Zimov in Pleistocene Park in Siberia
  • The role woolly mammoths would play in preserving the Arctic's methane-filled permafrost
  • Whether what's being brought back is actually a mammoth or a "cold-adaptive elephant"
  • What most excites George Church, the "founding father of genomics," about Colossal's work

- and more.

While I still have some reservations about the project of de-extinction, I left our conversation feeling more optimistic about this field - and the future.

You can listen to their episode on the web, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Simply search for "Where We Go Next."

Thank you for your time. And if you listen to the episode, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

And thank you to the mods for allowing me to share this conversation with the community.



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technofuture8 t1_j6sndpb wrote

Did you ask them about their plans for an artificial womb?


WhereWeGoNext OP t1_j6sq8s8 wrote

I believe with the mammoth they are planning to implant the embryos into African elephant surrogates.

Didn’t have time to get into some of the nitty gritty, but I aimed to hit as many key elements of the process as I could.


technofuture8 t1_j6t0nag wrote

They've actually got plans for an artificial womb actually.


WhereWeGoNext OP t1_j6t1tqp wrote

That’s cool! Makes sense that they’d have multiple options - we spoke about the importance of parallel pathing for the project.


CYOA_With_Hitler t1_j6walgx wrote

I think they're full of shit and are just saying they'll do things to get invetsor money


WhereWeGoNext OP t1_j6xb3qc wrote

I can absolutely understand why you feel that way. Two immediate things that make me think they’re genuine:

Some of the other projects they’re undertaking - like manufacturing a herpes vaccine for elephants - are less glamorous and are being done as we speak.

I don’t believe someone like George Church would risk his scientific reputation on a scam.